A varied programme for violin and piano presented by Keswick Music Society at the Theatre by the Lake featured Tasmin Little, violin, and Martin Roscoe, piano. The evening took us on several musical journeys, firstly from 1740 (Tartini) through to 1915 (Szymanowski). Also from classical form through nationalist story-telling (Smetana) and Edwardian romanticism (Elgar) to Szymanowski 's atmospheric impressionism.
The balance between violin and piano was a journey too: the piano does little more than fill in the harmonies in the notoriously busy “Devil’s Trill” sonata of Tartini, of course a violinist’s showpiece for double-stopping technique, with the added complexities of Fritz Kreisler’s stellar cadenza. The recurring tune in the canonic finale of the César Franck’s violin sonata is a complete partnership between the parts whereas the piano part in Karol Szymanowski ‘s Tarantella is at times more prominent than the violin.
So Tasmin Little was by no means simply “accompanied by” Martin Roscoe at the piano, although he is of course a fantastic and sympathetic accompanist. It was a complete partnership between two first-rate musicians. The Pre-concert talk by John Green made an excellent preparation in addition to his programme notes. The sell-out audience of 400 at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake were spectacularly attentive for Tartini’s “Devil’s Trill” sonata though the coughers were rather in evidence for the less-familiar Schubert Duo.
As well as stunning virtuosity in this varied programme, Tasmin Little gave us a complex and rewarding interpretation of interpretation of the Schubert Duo in A major D. 574 (Op 162), the music moving between traditional sonata form counterpoint and the Lieder style, which Schubert made his own.
Tasmin Little played Bedřic Smetana’s two duos “From my homeland” from memory: it’s clearly a piece she enjoys and feels sympathy for. Her performance caught the romantic yearning for the folk culture suppressed under the Hapsburg regime which Bedřic Smetana, along with Antonín Dvořák, was so keen to preserve and celebrate. I’m sure they would have been pleased with this evening’s performance.
Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake is a friendly modern venue, sympathetic acoustic (though relatively dry) and with great sight-lines as it is a theatre. A fine piano. There can’t be many other venues where you see a sunset AND a natural lake AND day-old lambs in the field outside the theatre bar!
Tasmin Little - violin
Martin Roscoe - piano
Pre-concert talk - John Green
Tartini: “Devil’s Trill” sonata in G minor
Schubert: Duo sonata in A major, D.574 (Op.162)
Smetana: Two duos: "From my Homeland"
Franck: Sonata in A major
Elgar: Chanson de Matin, Op. 15 no. 2
Szymanowski: Notturno e Tarantelle, Op. 28
Encore: Elgar: Salut de l'amour